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Author: Dr Geeta KrishnanConsultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist

Getting a diagnosis for your child or teenager can be key to understanding what your child’s difficulties might be and to ensuring they get the best possible support in place.

Why should we get a diagnosis?

As parents we are often loathe to ‘label’ our children, worried that doing so may somehow define them unfairly and realising that they are much more than just a diagnosis.

A diagnosis of ASD however can have some benefits:

  1. Creates an understanding for all about why your child finds certain things challenging
  2. Ensures your child has the correct support around them to enable them to thrive
  3. Gives your child a way to understand why they find somethings difficult compared to other children
  4. Enables other conditions, such as depression, depression or ADHD to be detected.

Of children with ASD are thought to have at least one comorbid disorder

What to expect from your child’s autism assessment

It is important to get an assessment with a Psychiatrist who is trained and experienced in diagnosing ASD, to ensure they consider all aspects of your child’s life and other conditions that may be present.

The ‘gold-standard’ approach to diagnosing Autism in children is to have several clinicians involved – this is known as a multi-disciplinary approach and ensures a comprehensive and objective assessment.

At Clinical Partners, the Autism assessment is built around evidence approved recommendations and with input from some of the most senior Psychiatrists in the UK.

An autism assessment should be a very thorough affair – the parents we help are often amazed at the level of detail our clinicians go into. As ASD is a lifelong condition (there is no ‘cure’) – they will want to be absolutely certain your child has ASD before offering you a diagnosis.

  1. Pre-assessment questionnaires – we will ask you and your child’s school to complete some forms that are important in understanding how you child behaves in different environments and what challenges they experience.
  2. Appointment for your child – your child will meet with a Clinical Psychologist, who will spend a few hours with them, using toys, games and conversation to understand how your child sees the world. Whilst it should be a fun experience for your child, the psychologist will be using evidence based and approved screening tools to assess your child against the criteria relevant to autism.
  3. Appointment for you – a key part of the diagnosis is understanding your child’s development, which is why you will meet with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist to go into some depth about your child’s developmental history.
  4. Diagnostic report – following your appointments the clinicians will need to write everything up, using all the information that has been gathered. A full and comprehensive report is written, with a diagnosis (where one can be made) and further recommendations.
  5. Feedback appointment – all to often parents receive the diagnosis for their child and then are left feeling ‘What is next?’. It’s natural to have a lot of questions, so as part of our assessment you will meet with the Psychiatrist again to have time to go through the report and ask any questions you have.

A very thorough process, handled with great care and consideration. We all felt very comfortable throughout and relieved to have finally got the diagnosis for our daughter.

Steph, York

Download our Autism assessment guide

During the assessment with the Psychiatrist, parents will be asked a lot of questions about their child aged 4-5. It is often really hard to remember all the detail, so my advice is to make notes or look through health records or ask others for details you might have forgotten.

Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist

Dr Geeta Krishnan is a highly competent Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist who works for North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, previously Lead Consultant for her Borough in Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust. Dr Krishnan has...

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